The Elite Circle Clarence Thomas Entered That Led to the Supreme Court


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Justice Antonin G. Scalia’s disclosures, for example, show that he took 258 subsidized trips from 2004 to 2014, to destinations that included Switzerland, Ireland and Hawaii. He died, in 2016, while staying for free at the West Texas hunting lodge of a business executive whose company had recently had a case before the Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disclosed more trips than any other justice in 2018. During a trip to Israel to accept a lifetime achievement award, she was a guest of the Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn; the year before, the court had given his company a victory by declining to take up a case. In a ranked list of privately paid travel by justices from 2004 to 2014, Justice Thomas came in second to last, but that covered a period when Justice Thomas had stopped disclosing gifts and trips beyond those related to teaching, speeches and conferences.

As Justice Thomas became a fixture at the Horatio Alger Association, he gained entree to the lives of some of the wealthy members at its core.

In January 2002, the justice and his wife attended a Horatio Alger board meeting at a resort developed on a former sugar plantation in Jamaica. Before a performance by Johnny and June Carter Cash, the Thomases conducted a “special session” for members, records show. It is unclear how they traveled to Jamaica or who paid for their stay.

In 2005, when Horatio Alger held a board meeting in Vancouver, Canada, Justice Thomas R.S.V.P.’d for an excursion to Mr. Washington’s property on Stuart Island, off the coast of British Columbia. The justice did not end up attending because he was at the funeral of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, said a spokeswoman for the Horatio Alger Association. Mr. Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

In the 2000s, Justice Thomas made annual visits to South Florida to help Mr. Huizenga, the Dolphins owner, pass out scholarships, sometimes also meeting with the team. At least once, Justice Thomas flew in a private jet emblazoned with the Dolphins logo. Another time, a helicopter whisked him off the Dolphins’ practice field, according to Mr. Hutcherson, who attended the Florida trips.

“I love the Dolphins,” the justice said one year, before explaining his dual allegiance to Mr. Jones’s Dallas Cowboys. “I’m a Dolphins fan. Primarily a Cowboys fan, but a Dolphins fan also.”

In 2001, Mr. Huizenga’s foundation donated $25,000 to help restore, expand and name a wing of Savannah’s Carnegie Library in honor of Justice Thomas, records show. (Mr. Crow donated $175,000.) The library had been open to Black people during segregation, and Justice Thomas had spent many hours there in his youth.


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